Throwback Thursday: How Tucker's became an SA landmark, popular gathering spot

Tucker's has been open on East Side since late 1940s

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SAN ANTONIO – A bridge from downtown to the surrounding communities and now into the future, Tucker's Kozy Korner has stood the test of time.

Tucker’s started as a confectionary store and gas station. In the late '40s, it was sold to John Tucker, who began to sell hot dogs, burgers and ribs to go from the wood paneled store.

Tucker was a visionary who thrived at the location. But it wasn’t just because of the great food and later, the cocktails.

“Mr. Tucker was a very philanthropic man,” said Nathan Azar, co-owner. “He gave a lot to the community and cared so much about the East Side.”

Tucker later transformed the store into what it would look like today, and it immediately became a major neighborhood gathering spot.

“You would see events out in the parking lot where they would bring in classic cars and do live music, have bands and so everybody would come and everybody from every community would be here,” said Andrew Lake, co-owner. 

Tucker would also hold fundraisers at the venue to help children in the area go to school. Appreciation for the community and employees was always a priority. That included a summer work vacation to Corpus Christi.

“They would load up three to four school buses full of people, employees, friends and family and they would all bus down to Corpus and have a little Tucker's vacation every single summer all the way until Mr. Tucker passed away,” said Azar.

Azar and Lake recently took over Tucker’s, which after more than seven decades is still located at the corner of East Houston and Cherry Street.

Their main goal was to preserve John Tucker’s legacy of reaching out to the community and being inclusive to everyone in San Antonio.

“Mr. Tucker started this place with the core goal of come one, come all and we still to this day have to stand by that core principal running this place,” said Azar.

“They come in and see the new version of Tucker's that should feel very similar to what their parents and grandparents would have felt when they came in 1968,” said Lake.

The current menu features Asian baos, fried chicken and French toast, an array of burgers, great drinks and much more. It’s a team effort that includes front of house manager Rachel Rainwater and CIA trained chefs.

Azar and Lake said it’s a great feeling being stewards of a site that has meant so much to the community and filled so many people with fun memories.

“Most people have an incredible story from the past from Tucker's,” Azar said. “That’s the thing that has surprised me and been so incredible to me, is Tucker’s has a place in most San Antonians history as well.”

About the Authors:

RJ Marquez has been at KSAT since 2010. He's covered a variety of stories and events across the San Antonio area, and is the lead reporter for KSAT Explains. He also covers the Spurs for on-air and digital platforms. You can see RJ regularly on KSAT Explains and Good Morning San Antonio. He also writes a weekly Spurs newsletter.

Andrew Wilson is a digital journalist and social media producer at KSAT.